Tyrone says it is easy to stop global warming

by on March 14, 2007 at 6:20 pm in Political Science | Permalink

Tyrone, like many other people, enjoys reading Instapundit.  Today he sent me the following by IM, or was it Google Talk?:

Global warming is easy to stop.  Is a carbon tax costly?  No way.  Didn’t we already agree that stopping global warming is wealth-maximizing for the world as a whole?  Then we just have to work out the right set of transfers.  As a first-order oversimplification, global warming benefits North Dakota but harms Bangladesh by a greater amount.  North Dakota cuts a deal with Bangladesh.  The two state Senators will support a carbon tax in return for FREE CALL CENTRES FOR FIFTY YEARS.  Or whatever is needed.  After all, a bargain is there.  We might even use the UN, or a revamped Kyoto agreement, to support and organize the deal.

You can see this agreement is self-enforcing, right?  If payment is not made, we can always take the carbon tax away.  Or do something even nastier with those silos up there in the Peace Garden State.  Obviously America could turn a profit on this whole carbon tax deal.  This might sound unfair, but surely it is less unfair than ignoring the problem altogether…

Sadly, Tyrone is still waiting for a response from Tyler.  Tyler thinks Tyrone is a nasty, nasty man, who has grasped only the worst of Edgeworth and understood none of the best…

1 ryan March 14, 2007 at 7:39 pm

The easiest response to the question, “Why doesn’t the Coase Theorem take care of this?” is often to beg off with a reference to high transaction costs. In this case, however, are the transaction costs that high? China and India will probably suffer a good share of the cost of global warming, and the US an enormous portion of the carbon emissions, so with just two deals you could take a chunk out of global warming, right?

So why isn’t Tyrone’s argument a proof by method of contradiction? China (which is more or less a dictatorship — solves a lot of public choice problems right there) could pay the US to stop emitting carbon, but it has made no such offer. So how are we so sure ending global warming is globally wealth-maximizing given current technology?

2 Tyrone Slothrop March 14, 2007 at 9:18 pm

I am not Tyrone.

That is all.

3 David March 14, 2007 at 10:44 pm

For those who would rather not spend an extra 2 minutes looking for the origins of Tyrone, here:

http://www.marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2006/03/opposite_day.html

4 Telnar March 15, 2007 at 9:58 am

In a Tyronian spirit:

1) I suspect strongly that reducing the energy (or emissions) generated by a process costs more per unit of energy saved if that process is already more efficient.

2) Users of energy in the US who could potentially be compelled or encouraged to reduce their CO2 emissions almost certainly generate more dollars of output per ton of CO2.

3) India and China are two of the world’s largest and fastest growing emitters of CO2, yet have not chosen to strongly deter their citizens from increasing CO2 emissions.

4) It only seems reasonable therefore to conclude that the governments of India and China do not believe that the costs of reducing emissions exceed the benefits. Those costs are largely in the loss of present and future production and therefore are easily convertable to dollars.

5) Since we can not reduce CO2 at lower cost than India and China, it follows that they would not want us to spend any funds that we are willing to altruistically supply for their benefit on CO2 reduction.

5 Chris March 15, 2007 at 10:19 am

It’s utterly absurd to suggest that the responsibility for a weak bangladesh dealing with hypothetical future storms lies mostly with Americans — the nation which has developed most of the the technology (at no cost to Bangladeshis) with which they will deal with those storms (and the terrible storms that they have even without climate change.

The problem with storms and sea levels hitting a weak Bangladesh has only the most marginal amount to do with carbon emissions, and a whole lot to do with its own poor governance and precarious pre-industrial situation. Industrial development is the solution far more than it is the problem.

6 Ron March 15, 2007 at 11:30 am

Assuming global warming as a fact still leaves a high level of uncertainty as to its regional effects on weather, which is the most important aspect from an individual stand point. Outside of the effects of the potential sea level rises, no knows who will be the specific winners and losers, only that there will be some. It is very like that Bangladesh will be a loser due to sea level rises but anything more is highly uncertain. Predicting he weather patterns for North Dakota in 100 years is pure speculation, the climate models are far too weak. Without specific knowledge on the regional weather patterns it is highly unlikely that any government will enter into any “Tyrone style” or coasian trade.

7 Randal Leavitt March 16, 2007 at 1:37 am

Global climate change is moving ahead no matter what we do. Humans cannot do anything to influence it. The false link between carbon dioxide and global heating is a myth invented to perpetuate environmental activism. The minute amount of carbon dioxide emitted by human activity is insignificant as a factor affecting climate. Make all the deals you want – they won’t change the temperature.

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